TESCO Bank has been forced to freeze online transactions after it detected “suspicious transactions” on around 40,000 accounts over the weekend.
Cash was apparently removed from around half of these, with the supermarket chain’s banking arm pledging to refund those who have lost money.
Benny Higgin, chief executive of the bank, said that the decision to suspend online transfers was in order to protect customers, describing the alleged cyber-fraud as “online criminal activity.”
“We apologise for the worry and inconvenience that this has caused for customers, and can only stress that we are taking every step to protect our customers’ accounts. That is why, as a precautionary measure, we have taken the decision today to temporarily stop online transactions from current accounts. This will only affect current account customers,” he added.
Tesco have otherwise declined to elaborate further, and they have not stated how much money is missing in what is thought to be the first occasion on which such a large number of clients have lost money due to a cyber attack by fraudsters possibly based in Spain and Brazil.
Customers began to report missing funds on Saturday and Sunday, leading the bank to send out a text alert, but Higgins failed to provide details as to why accounts had been compromised.
“While online transactions will not be available, current account customers will still be able to use their cards for cash withdrawals, chip and pin payments, and all existing bill payments and direct debits will continue as normal. We are working hard to resume normal service on current accounts as soon as possible,” he said.
“We can reassure customers that any financial loss as a result of this activity will be resolved fully by Tesco Bank, and we are working to refund accounts that have been subject to fraud as soon as possible.”